Carmel Magazine

CM SP16 Online Edition

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 43 of 211

T he dog's bark is incessant: con- trolled, not violent. Stern, not sweet. Winnie barks when there is a knock at the door, when a hose is being sprayed outside, or if the wind is blowing briskly. She came to our family last October as a temporary foster from the Pacific Grove based Peace of Mind Dog Rescue. I was not looking to adopt another dog and had a penchant for Pugs, not Terrier mixes. When Winnie pranced into our house with a volunteer, she wore a red vest, embroidered with the words, "Registered Service Dog." Her tongue was curled from stress, and she sur- veyed her new surroundings with the acuity of a sniper. Small in stature, with a shiny, black, white and beige coat, she showed athleticism and alertness. I was impressed, as she was estimated to be at least 10 years old. Winnie decided immediately that I was her new subject; she didn't want to leave my side, and would wait by the door, the gate or the window when I left the house. Our bond grew so tight, so fast, that we decided to make her a permanent part of our family. We adjusted to her odd ways: her nervous demeanor and alpha behavior mixed with an incredibly tender personality when she'd rarely allow herself to relax. However, we had a heck of a hard time adjusting to all the yelping: constant, like a car-horn stuck on its alarm setting. "Winnie, please stop. Stop!" we'd plead. She'd just carry on. The little-old-gal shook violently when we'd put her to bed in our dedicated "doggy sleeping room," and we were so con- cerned for her, we let her sleep with us. She laid stake next to my left shoulder, halfway under the covers, and I acquiesced. We noticed through our own interrupted slumber that Winnie seemed to keep one eye open at all times. Never fully asleep, she would pounce and bark at the slightest rustle in the trees outside the door. "Winnie! Please! Stop!" Recently, I was sent Winnie's file from the rescue, and I took the time to go over it thoroughly. Winifred, her formal name, was actually older than we thought, turning 13 in April. She had lived with an elderly couple all those years. Her job? She was a service dog for her deaf owner. She was trained to bark at the slightest noise. She had been doing her job for us all those months, and we'd been shushing her. Choked up, I looked her in the eye, told her how grateful we were to have her, and vowed to cherish her warnings. "Thank you, Winnie!" I'd say, several times a day, as she let me know a package had been left at the door, or that a storm was brewing. Or anything else that made a noise, for that matter. My little canine made me think of all the situations in which I had prejudged circumstances without having all the information. I pondered the kid I sit next to in one of my master's work- shops at San Jose State. She seldom speaks, answering in one- word sentences, and only if necessary. I had labeled her "odd" and "peculiar." Then, I read the first of her papers and it was genius. In writing fiction, she showed the scintillation with which her mind—but not mouth—worked. Slowly, she warmed to some of us more extroverted students. Now, I don't take it personally when I greet her and she barely cracks a smile. I know that her internal gears do not work like mine, nor like most of the people in our classes. The same theory can be applied to everyone I come in con- tact with. It's cliché, but I simply never know what others have gone through. They could have experienced unimaginable per- sonal tragedy; could have been fighting a migraine headache; could have simply not wished to engage. Since I do not have access to their personal "files," it's my duty to settle for curios- ity and compassion. I have reckoned with the fact that they, too, may just be doing their job. The UPS man has just delivered a box of dog supplies, and Winnie is going crazy, jumping 3 feet in the air, yelping as if her day depended on it, as it may have in the past. I lean down, pat her head and say, "Thank you for helping me understand." Dina Eastwood is a former news anchor at KSBW TV, past host of "Candid Camera" and has starred on a reality show on the E! Network. She is a writer, editor and yogini. She resides on the Monterey Peninsula with her daughter, Morgan. BEHIND THE SPOTLIGHT D I N A E A S T W O O D My little canine made me think of all the situations in which I had prejudged circum- stances without having all the information. The Most Beautiful Bark 42 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 6

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Carmel Magazine - CM SP16 Online Edition